The premium Area-51 range makes its return at CES 2019, this time in laptop form
Historically, Alienware’s Area-51 lineup have been gargantuan desktop PCs with absurd levels of power… and price tags to match. Think of the Area-51 Threadripper Edition we reviewed in 2017.
2019 sees the arrival of the Area-51 fleet’s first laptop: the Area-51m, a powerful notebook with a desktop-level chipset and CPU. Gaming laptops with this amount of power were once stuck in the realms of science fiction. It may be the most powerful gaming laptop of all time, then, but will the Area-51m be able to handle the heat generated by its desktop internals?
Alienware Area-51m review: Key specifications, price and release date
- Display: 17.3in, 1,920 x 1,080p, up to 144Hz
- Processor: Up to 9th-Gen Intel Core i9-9900K (5.0GHz)
- Chipset: Intel Z390
- Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6)
- Storage: Up to 2 x 116GB Intel Opane SSD and 1TB (+8GB SSHD) Hybrid Drive
- RAM: Up to 64GB (4 x 16GB)
- Connectivity: 2.5 Gbit Ethernet network, Killer Wi-Fi 1550 2×2 AC and Bluetooth 5.0
- Dimensions: 42 x 410 x 402.6mm (HWD)
- Weight: Up to 3.87kg
- Audio: 2 x speakers, Alienware Sound Center
- OS: Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro
- UK price: TBC (Starting from $2,549 in the US)
- UK release: TBC (Released 21 January 2019 in the US)
Alienware Area-51m review: Design, key features and first impressions
Alienware has gone all-out with the otherworldly design of its new flagship laptop. The hexagonal intake ports, blue neon lighting and sculpted chassis look like something out of a sci-fi fantasy. That ‘Lunar Light’ colour scheme adds to the spaceship aesthetic, although there is also a more reserved ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ (aka black) finish available.
The Area-51m is a sizeable machine, weighing in at 3.87kg (not including the power brick), meaning it lacks the portability of a typical gaming laptop. And based on its internal specifications, I’m guessing it wouldn’t last more than an hour without being plugged in.
About those specs, then. As mentioned already, Alienware is billing the Area-51m as the ‘world’s most powerful gaming laptop’, and the internals certainly suggests this could be true. The top-end model of the Area-51m has a ‘desktop-only’ octa-core 9th-Gen Intel Core i9-9900K processor with a max frequency of 5.0GHz. This is a laptop we’re talking about, remember.
The only way to have a desktop CPU is to have a desktop chipset, and the Area-51m is installed with the brand new Intel Z390. Even if you don’t opt for the top-spec CPU at the time of purchase, the Z390 will allow you to upgrade your processor to a more desktop-worthy chip down the line.
In addition to its astounding CPU, the Area-51m can be purchased with as much as 64GB RAM and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6) graphics. Suffice to say, it should handle games pretty well. And it ought to look nice too, as it’s available with Full HD 144Hz IPS panels that feature Nvidia G-Sync and Tobii eye-tracking technology.
With such high-end tech in such a relatively small body, the Area-51m’s performance will be highly dependent on its ability to stay cool and avoid thermal throttling. That’s where Alienware’s Cryo-Tech thermal technology comes into play. The cooling system is comprised of several components, from the cooling intake ports and heat exhaust ports to the dual high-voltage fans and copper fins which conduct heat away from core components. The highest-end Area-51m configurations will have up to eight heating pipes in a bid to keep all that thermal activity under control.
The Area-51m has a wealth of ports to suit your gaming needs. On the back, aside from the power input, there’s a Mini-Display Port, 2.5Gbit Ethernet port, and HDMI 2.0 output and an Alienware graphics amplifier port. On the right-hand side are two USB 3.1 sockets, with one more on the left. That sits alongside a USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, and two 3.5mm jacks for a headset and microphone.
Alienware Area-51m review: Early verdict
The Area-51m is placed to be the most powerful gaming laptop in the world. Boasting the specs of a microATX desktop, built in the body of a sleek and futuristic-looking notebook, Alienware’s latest flagship may just re-define laptop gaming. But with great power comes great thermal activity; until I get an Area-51m in for review I won’t know for sure how well it handles the heat.